Navigation Links
Same types of cell respond differently to stimulus, Stanford study shows
Date:6/27/2010

STANFORD, Calif. Using new technology that allows scientists to monitor how individual cells react in the complex system of cell signaling, Stanford University researchers have uncovered a much larger spectrum of differences between each cell than ever seen before.

Cells don't all act in a uniform fashion, as was previously thought.

"Think of cells as musicians in a jazz band," said Markus Covert, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering and senior author of the study, which will be published online in Nature June 27. Covert's lab studies complex genetic systems. "One little trumpet starts to play, and the cells go off on their own riffs. One plays off of the other."

Up to now, most of the scientific information gathered on cell signaling has been obtained from populations of cells using bulk assays due to technological limitations on the ability to examine each individual cell. The new study, using an imaging system developed at Stanford based on microfluidics, shows that scientists have been misled by the results of the cell-population-based studies.

"While the outcome of activation may be the same, the process the cells use to achieve this outcome is very different," the study authors wrote. "Population studies have not revealed the intricate network of information one observes at the single cell level."

"This really surprised us," said study co-author Stephen Quake, PhD, a professor of bioengineering at Stanford, investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a leader in the field of microfluidics. "It sends us back to the drawing board to figure out what is really going on in cells."

Cell signaling governs basic cellular activities and coordinates cell actions in the human body. The ability of cells to correctly respond to their environments is the basis of all development, tissue repair and immunity. A better understanding of how cells talk to each other could lead to new insights into how larger biological systems operate, and possibly lead to cures for such diseases as cancer, diabetes and autoimmune disorders, which are caused by errors in this process.

"What we see is that differences between cells matter," Covert said. "Even the nuances can play a role."

To achieve his goal of studying individual cell reactions during the cell-signaling process, Covert's lab joined forces with Quake's lab.

Quake, who is also the Lee Otterson Professor in the School of Engineering, had invented the biological equivalent of the integrated circuit the microfluidic chip which enables a single researcher to achieve what once would have required dozens or more. Three years ago, researchers in his lab, Rafael Gomez-Sjoberg and Annel Leyrat, developed a microfluidic chip specifically for the study of single cells. In this study, Quake and Covert put it to use to investigate inflammatory cell signaling.

"This study is a beautiful biological application of microfluidic cell culture and really illustrates the power of the technology," Quake said.

The chip is made of three layers of a silicon-based clear elastic material and contains the microscopic equivalent of test tubes, pipettes and petri dishes. Valves and gates control fluid flow. By regulating flow, the chip carries out dozens of experiments at the same time. It's essentially a lab on a chip.

"We used a microfluidics platform that could maintain and monitor cell cultures 96 at a time," Covert said. "I was doing one at a time before that. Over a one-year period, we were able to study, with unprecedented detail, how 5,000 cells responded to signals. This took us to a totally new dimension."

The scientists put mouse fibroblast cells onto the chip and let them grow in an environmental chamber, which is mounted on an inverted microscope. The entire system, which fits on a small desktop, is computerized and provides long-term monitoring of the individual cell's response to a signal by taking pictures every few minutes.

For this study, Covert, Quake and their colleagues stimulated the cells with various concentrations of a protein that typically elicits the immune system's response to infection or cancer.

"What we found is that some cells receive the signal and activate, and some don't," said Savas Tay, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford and at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and co-first author of the study with graduate student Jacob Hughey. In the images, the scientists could see that the cells responded in various ways, with different timing and number of oscillations, yet their primary response, in many respects, was equal.

"Previously, we used to see the cell as a messy blob of biological material, yet there is great engineering down there," said Tay. "We needed to use mathematical modeling to understand what is going on"

"The cells were doing totally different things and we've been totally missing it," Covert said.

Added Hughey, "By observing thousands of individual cells, we were able to characterize with unprecedented detail how the cells interpret varying intensities of an external stimulus."


'/>"/>

Contact: Tracie White
traciew@stanford.edu
650-723-7628
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Researchers discover genetic link between both types of ALS
2. Production of biofuels could benefit by controlling the types of cells that develop in plants
3. Duffy-negative blood types no longer protected from P. Vivax malaria
4. Scientists identify common HPV genotypes in northern India, encourage vaccination
5. Molecular typesetting -- proofreading without a proofreader
6. Recruitment of reproductive features into other cell types may underlie extended lifespan in animals
7. Scientists uncover mode of action of enzyme linked with several types of cancer
8. Researchers reveal types of genes necessary for brain development
9. New technique determines the number of fat cells remains constant in all body types
10. BIO-key(R) Delivers FBI-Compliant 2 Factor Authentication Solution for First Responders
11. Men and women respond differently to stress
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/29/2017)... -- higi, the health IT company that operates the largest ... , today announced a Series B investment from BlueCross ... new investment and acquisition accelerates higi,s strategy to create ... health activities through the collection and workflow integration of ... and secures data today on behalf of over 36 ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global Biometric Vehicle Access ... 15.1% over the next decade to reach approximately $1,580 million by ... and forecasts for all the given segments on global as well ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... March 21, 2017 Optimove , ... by retailers such as 1-800-Flowers and AdoreMe, today ... Recommendations and Replenishment. Using Optimove,s machine learning algorithms, ... product and replenishment recommendations to their customers based ... predictions of customer intent drawn from a complex ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/19/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... June 19, 2017 , ... ... solutions for clinical development reported today that it is launching two new additions ... company will be demonstrating new capabilities at the DIA 2017 Annual Meeting in ...
(Date:6/16/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... June 16, 2017 , ... ... device compliance and commercialization, has just announced two more sessions of its “From ... series will focus on the world of online templates for design control exercises. ...
(Date:6/15/2017)... ... June 15, 2017 , ... ... herbicides give farmers new options for managing Palmer amaranth and other broadleaf weeds ... say special precautions are necessary. Auxin herbicides are known to drift and to ...
(Date:6/15/2017)... TX (PRWEB) , ... June 15, 2017 , ... ... in Saranas, a promising new medical device startup. Dan Parsley, angelMD’s SVP of ... by angelMD members, and this angelMD syndicate is part of Saranas’ recently announced ...
Breaking Biology Technology: